Decorative image

Support at home

You might need some care and support at home due to cancer or its treatment. There is a lot of practical and emotional support available. 

GP and nursing support

Contact your GP for help with any medical problems that come up when you're at home. They can also make referrals to nursing services for you. There are different types of nursing services.

District nurses

District nurses can:

  • give medicines or injections
  • check temperature, blood pressure and breathing
  • clean and dress wounds
  • monitor or set up drips
  • give emotional support
  • teach basic caring skills to family members where needed
  • get special equipment, such as commodes or bed pans

Community specialist palliative care nurses

Community specialist palliative care nurses include Macmillan nurses and hospice nurses. They specialise in advice about pain control, sickness and other symptoms of cancer. They also give emotional support to you and your carers.

Marie Curie nurses

Marie Curie nurses give nursing care to people with advanced cancer in their own homes. They can visit during the day or spend the night to give your carers a break.

Social workers

Social workers can arrange:

  • home helps to help with shopping or housework
  • home care assistants for washing and dressing
  • meals on wheels
  • respite care

Your social worker can also help with money matters by checking you get all the benefits you are entitled to. Or they can advise you about charity grants for things like extra heating costs or special diets.

Contact a social worker yourself by getting in touch with your local social services office. Or ask your hospital nurse or your GP to refer you.

Dietitian

Dietitians play an extremely important role in managing diet problems in cancer. They can answer your questions and help you deal with any problems you have with eating. These might include difficulty eating or swallowing.

They can recommend specific meals, snacks and food. They can also show you how preparing certain foods might help you eat. For example, a pureed diet may help if you are having problems swallowing.

If you need it, your dietitian can plan a special diet to make sure you get all the calories and nutrients you need.

They may also recommend ‘meals in a drink’ that you can have if you can't face a meal. You can buy the drinks from a chemist or they are available on prescription. There are many other types of nutritional supplements which can help to boost your intake of nutrients. Your dietitian will advise you on these.

If you have a more serious problem and need drip or tube feeds, your dietitian will be very involved in this.

Local support services

There are many other sorts of help you can get. Services vary from place to place.

Sometimes local voluntary groups offer sitting services. Someone comes to stay with you while your relative goes out.

Good neighbour schemes offer befriending or practical help with shopping or transport.

Local cancer support groups often offer practical help. And they are a good source of information about services in your area. Ask your doctor or nurse about local groups.

Cancer Research UK nurses

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They can give advice about who can help you and what kind of support is available.
Last reviewed: 
06 Feb 2020
  • Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer. 
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), March 2004.

Information and help